Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The New York Stories of Elizabeth Hardwick (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – June 1, 2010
|New from||Used from|
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
“Hardwick wrote when she had something to say, and she took her time; the impression of ease is owing strictly to her style. Not a poet, she produced a poet’s prose…” –The Guardian (London)
“An odd, original talent, Elizabeth Hardwick writes with a tremendous subtlety and a fine drawn sensibility of common frailties.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Nobody writing prose now gives me as much pleasure as Elizabeth Hardwick. She honors our language and enlivens our woe.” —Susan Sontag
“Hardwick is, characteristically without ostentation or polemics, a gifted miniaturist biographer.” —Joyce Carol Oates
"Elizabeth Hardwick died in 2007, but her influence can still be felt in any writer who knows that a story or essay’s tone is based as much on a word’s weight, and the rhythm of a paragraph, as it is on thesis and intention....In the novelist and critic Darryl Pinckney, Hardwick has a brilliant champion. He has gathered together the best of Hardwick’s short fiction in The New York Stories of Elizabeth Hardwick, and, in his powerful and insightful introduction, he expresses something of the charm of the woman—and her great struggles to produce stories that reflected her unique process of intellection, her engagement in the world of ideas. " — Hilton Als, The New Yorker
About the Author
Elizabeth Hardwick (1916–2007) was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and educated at the University of
Kentucky and Columbia University. A recipient of a Gold Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is the author of three novels, a biography of Herman Melville, and four collections of essays. She was a cofounder and advisory editor of The New York Review of Books and contributed more than one hundred reviews, articles, reflections, and letters to the magazine. NYRB Classics publishes Sleepless Nights, a novel, and Seduction and Betrayal, a study of women in literature.
Darryl Pinckney is the author of a novel, High Cotton, and, in the Alain Locke Lecture Series, Out There: Mavericks of Black Literature.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The collection begins with a fine introduction to the author's life by Darryl Pinckney. It is incredibly telling especially when covering Hardwick's relationships with men. He believes she brought to life neglected histories using "daring intellectual pitch". For me, the stories are stark assessments of human behaviour and character. In them, some lines are pure gems, "he delivered energetic arguments on safe subjects." or "His attempts at wit had always been forced and he had now become one of those boring people who tell anecdotes about historical personages." or this delightful skewer, "The girl's personality was split wide open with contraries."
If my counsellor and therapist wife were to have read this I am betting that she would assess that Hardwick was influenced by some significant 'family of origin' issues. In fact, the author says as much through various characters, "The lofty intellectual has real family problems." and "the notions I have entertained about my family are fantastic manias, complicated, willful distortions." In one story she isolates herself, "My family situation is distinguished by only one eccentricity - it is entirely helpful and normal." The one tale that fictionalizes a return to her home state of Kentucky is one hell of a confession.
Her work is, at times, uncomfortable. There is a vein of anger that pulses bright red with frequency, "I took him apart nightly, as if his character were a bad novel." Sometimes that anger and jadedness works, "The clean cold air and the pale blue sky are the best the city has to offer and all the millions who have never held a golf club, ridden a horse, or skied in the mountains have reason to be thankful." Equally so it can fall flat and seem forced, "Madison Avenue - a feline thoroughfare with goods and mirrors meant to intimidate bone and flesh."
The collections is quite strong and interesting as it spans decades. This enables the reader to get a sense of the author at different periods of her life. Pinckney shares that Hardwick "disliked the word "creativity" and preferred to speak of the mystery of talent." More people need to be exposed to her talent. She possessed a dark sense of humour often saying that the two motivations to writing are desperation or revenge. Both of those are felt in spades throughout these short stories and obviously provided the fuel for her fire.
`Evenings at Home' (published 1948) is set in Lexington, Kentucky, Hardwick's home town, which she left behind for New York, after graduation from the University of Kentucky in 1938, to work toward a Ph.D. in English literature at Columbia University. This autobiographical fiction captures the irony of a sophisticated New York intellectual discovering that her old Kentucky home is truly where the heart is, that she can indeed go home again after a long absence and still feel comfortable with family and friends. Her comfort shifts, however, to unsettled anxiety when she learns that the boy who had been her childhood love still lives in the neighborhood. She recalls her love as "not really love . . . but simply one of those incomprehensible youthful errors" but she still holds her now long-deceased brother, responsible for interfering with her infatuation. After a surprisingly long three weeks at home, it is time to return to New York, but not before visiting the cemetery, more to see its beautiful dogwoods and lilacs than to mourn, with her mother reminding her that "there's a space for you next to your Brother" and knowing that it is comforting to have these roots."
`The Friendly Witness' (1950) presents the reader with an all too familiar story of small-town political shenanigans involving the mayor and a night club owner who also runs gaming tables. The mayor and club owner, "antipathetic to the bone", nevertheless share an interest in the education of the mayor's daughter, such that the club owner matches $500 given by the mayor for his daughter's education. Thus the perception arrived at by reading the local newspaper that business again is in cahoots with government. (What else is new?) The mayor's wife and even his personal secretary are embarrassed by the accusations. The mayor, surrounded by negative speculation and feeling the best he could do now would be to make a public statement and resign from his position, is surprised to learn that the witness to the monetary gift, a scion of the community, called news reporters to her home to set the record straight by saying she had indeed witnessed the exchange of money from club owner to mayor, but that the mayor had said clearly that although he could not prevent the club owner from "showing a kindness to his daughter" he still intended to close any gambling establishment regardless. O. Henry would be proud.
Each of this set of Hardwick stories exhibits characters that test the limits of irony, rendering poignant moments into comic relief, passions into reluctant repose, and yearnings into faded, blurred memories. A lover (perhaps) replies to his lover's question, "Do you really love me?" with "well, yes and no, honey." A pompous university professor revels amidst colleagues who are know-it-all and above it all, yet his wife unnerves him with her admiration of academics who "give forth on matters never experienced . . . ideas flowing like wine--everything out of books and other people's lectures, nothing from actual life!" A painter intends to buy a painting of a colleague while making an alibi that is part of his plan to seduce his colleague's wife. American travelers in Amsterdam (not all of Hardwick's stories are set exclusively in New York) relish the paradox of cozy domesticity and violent emotional upheavals. "Amsterdam, a city of readers. All night long, you seemed to hear the turning of pages: pages of French, Italian, English, and the despised German. Those fair heads remembered Ovid, Yeats, Baudelaire - and remembered suffering, hiding, freezing. The weight of books and wars." And, a book seller, owner of The Pleaide (pronounced wittily as `Play Aid'), mulls over his books, not quite read, as well as his customers, who browse, shoplift, and sometimes even buy books. When not among his books and customers, he is in the rear of his shop typing as rapidly as a court stenographer from hand-written index cards, page after page of his latest novel. Shelved behind him are binders filled with perfectly-typed pages comprising thirteen (unpublished) novels. The Pleaide's stars, for its owner, are Kafka, Beckett, Walter Benjamin, Joyce, Akhmatova, and "old men from Japan with their whores in the snow mountains." The persistent themes of intimacy and alienation thread these stories together in a warp and weft culminating in Elizabeth Hardwick's articulate and intelligent cityscape of New York.